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Canon 6D vs 6D Mark II | Should You Upgrade To The 6D Mark II?

By Holly Roa on July 2nd 2017

With the recent announcement of Canon’s 6D Mark II to the collective groans of the internet about yet another Canon release lacking 4K video, one may begin to wonder, “is this a worthy upgrade from the original 6D, and will it serve the same purpose the 6D did – presenting a more affordable segue into full-frame shooting?

Prior to the 6D’s release, the entry to full-frame with Canon was the 5D Mark III, which to the chagrin of the internet, was also released without 4K in 2012. But now, the 6D Mark II is the only current full-frame Canon to be left without that capability, and curiously so. One can only speculate at Canon’s reasoning there, but hopefully the internet can chill a minute and consider what the 6D Mark II does offer. Let’s compare.

Canon 6D Mark II

  • 26.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • DIGIC 7 Image Processor
  • 45-Point All-Cross Type AF System
  • Full HD Video at 60 fps; Digital IS (No 4K)
  • 3″ 1.04m-Dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF and Movie Servo AF
  • Native ISO 40000, Expanded to ISO 102400
  • 6.5 fps Shooting; Time-Lapse & HDR Movie
  • Built-In GPS, Bluetooth & Wi-Fi with NFC
  • Dust and Water Resistant; SD Card Slot

Canon 6D

  • 20.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • DIGIC 5+ Image Processor
  • 3.0″ 1.04m-Dot Clear View LCD Monitor
  • Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 30 fps
  • 11-Point AF with Center Cross-Type Point
  • Native ISO 25600, Extended to ISO 102400
  • 4.5 fps Shooting at Full Resolution
  • Built-In Wi-Fi and GPS Connectivity
  • iFCL 63-Zone Dual Layer Metering Sensor
  • In-Camera HDR & Multiple Exposure Mode

The original 6D was released in November of 2012, about two months after Nikon released their D600. Both were revolutions in full-frame accessibility, putting very capable full-frame cameras into the hands of those with a little less in their budget than those who could spring for a 5D Mark III or a D800. If we’re honest here, the D600 was the better camera, or would have been if Nikon’s QC hadn’t been slipping at the time with their sensor oil splatter debacle that plagued that camera’s public perception. Queue the D610

The two were similar, with the Nikon having a couple more megapixels and and the ability to shoot a little bit faster of a burst, but where the D600 completely blew the 6D out of the water without a shadow of a doubt was the autofocus system. The 6D was barely an improvement over the 5D Mark II in that respect with its paltry 9 focus point, one cross-type system, but the D600 had 39 focus points with 9 cross-type. It was sadly a direct evolution of the D700/5D Mark II scenario in that regard.

The 6D Mark II has addressed this pitfall head-on in its updated autofocus system. The new camera has 45 focus points, and all are cross-type. It’s the same as the one found in the 80D, and to call it an improvement is an understatement. It’s a game-changer really. For anyone who shoots anything but still-life or non-moving subjects, really, it would be immediately noticeable and appreciated. The 6D II also benefits from current Canon technology in dual-pixel autofocus which lets users touch anywhere on the screen to focus, removing limitations in autofocus point coverage. Dual-pixel autofocus works quickly and well, and can be used in movie mode to easily change focus while filming. Despite the lack of 4K video, this will be a good thing for video shooters.

On the subject of that touch screen, that too is a big update to the original 6D. These days almost every piece of technology we use has a touch screen and most of us can relate to the feeling of trying to tap a screen only to realize it’s living in the pre-touch past. Canon’s touch screens are some of the best out there on cameras. They are responsive, bright, and use intuitive gestures, so this added feature is definitely a big change for the better.

Plus, that touch screen is articulating. The original 6D had the LCD on the back that just stayed right where it was, like most Canon cameras that came before it spare some entry-level ones. But now, Canon has expanded their Vari-angle touch screens to their professional and advanced-amateur bodies, and again, it’s a major update. Now you can record video of yourself while monitoring it via the LCD, take live-view selfies, and view the LCD while holding the camera above or below eye-level. This means that you can reach above a crowd to grab a shot and actually see what you’re shooting, or photograph someone small, like a child or pet, at eye-level without getting on your hands and knees, or even lying on the ground. Yes, those of us who photograph short subjects have been there, and it’s nice to not have to do that.

Those are probably the most important changes from the 6D to the 6D Mark II for day-to-day use that will make a significant difference in the shooting experience, but that’s not all. The high burst rate has jumped 2 fps, from 4.5 to 6.5 and that will make a noticeable difference for action shots. The newer WIFI should be an improvement on the 6D, which wasn’t always reliable, as Canon’s current WIFI enabled cameras do their job quite well. In addition, it gains NFC and Bluetooth transfer while keeping GPS.

The 6D Mark II’s sensor is brand new and boasts 6 more megapixels than the 6D. Given that MP count we can assume this sensor is home grown, so it will be interesting to see just how good it is. There is also a 4K time-lapse movie mode, which doesn’t quite feel like a bone tossed to those demanding 4K video, but we’ll see how it performs once we’ve got it in-hand. Native ISO has expanded from 25,600 maximum to 40,000, and the 6D’s Digic 5 processor has been bumped up to the current Digic 7, which is making its debut in a full-frame camera with the 6D Mark II’s release.

[REWIND: Why You Need A 24-70mm Lens & What’s Available For Each Budget]

So, no, it doesn’t have 4k, and it’s certainly arguable that Canon is behind the times when it comes to cutting-edge technology, but this camera should definitely be a worthy upgrade from the original 6D or a great first full-frame for a Canon shooter. Those who upgrade from the 6D will absolutely notice a difference for the better, and it can even be a suitable update from a 5D Mark II, whose autofocus is an ancient artifact at this point and whose users in 2017 are often lower-budget photographers with a taste for full-frame. If you’re considering purchasing one, you can pre-order now at B&H, or wait for the release to rent one and see the changes for yourself.

Right now you can pick up a 6D for $1399 for a body, or $1999 with a 24-105mm f/4L ($1,000 lens), and the Mark II is going for $1,999 body only or $3,099 with a 24-105 f/4L II. So for the money and capabilities, which one you’d buy now and would you upgrade?

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Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Sada Domonkos

    7d2 isnt a competitor for 5d4 or this new 6d2 :)) 2 processing unit 1 dedicated for focus only … the only competitor is the 1d series … and 7d2 is a crop sensor too.

    But i consider to change my 6D , cause the 6d1 focus system is crappy really …. subject follow is slow and unreliable … 

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  2. Lenzy Ruffin

    I don’t think it’s reasonable to dismiss valid criticisms as whining. When looking at the overall market, Canon seems to go out of its way to put less in each camera than it could, whereas everyone else seems to try to jam as much as possible in each new camera. 

    I don’t have a use for 4K, but that might change in a year or two. I never had a use for video at all before 2017 and now I sell talking head videos that I shoot in 1080p. Me shooting video was not something I saw coming even six months ago.  4K is not cutting edge technology anymore. A $2000 camera released in the second half of 2017 should have it, considering that everything else on the market does, even at lower price points. 

    The real problem I have is the single card slot. That’s just unacceptable for a $2000 body-only camera. This camera would be perfect to go with my 5D3 when I shoot events where I use 24-70 and 70-200. I can’t justify the price of a 5D4, but this 6D2 would be perfect…if it had dual card slots. I have a $1600 Fuji X-T2 that has dual card slots, 4K (that I don’t use), incredible AF coverage, etc…but no acceptable TTL flash system for on-camera running and gunning. 

    I love shooting with my Fuji, but I’m not leaving Canon. That’s going to be a harder stance to maintain in years to come if Canon continues to insist on deliberately not making each camera the best it could be when all the other manufacturers do the opposite. There’s nothing groundbreaking about dual card slots. It’s not unreasonable to expect that to be in a $2000 camera. 

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  3. Lister Cruz

    My suggestion – those who owns 6D 1 better not to upgrade to 6D 2
    + an advice
    1) Articulated / touch screen  gives you more flexibility but will it help u a
    lot ? If yes then how many clicks /touches in an event ? Those who run behind 4K (not available for 6D2) – How many people have 4k tv @ home ? 1080p is more than enough and laptops supports not more than 1080p  2) Try to invest on glasses rather than changing body. End of
    the day good glass gives best results
    3) After few months company will launch newer models and will
    you run behind ? What if , you can skip 2-3  upgrades and buy much more advanced
    technology ?  A clever person knows that it’s not upgrading the body but
    understanding the light and creating / improving the angle of view / different
    perspective of view will help to improve the output. If you are looking
    for advance features then why do you need to shoot in manual mode ? Just change
    the camera settings to Automatic model  +
    change to Raw file and take multiple clicks and use HDR feature. Now a days you
    have advanced editing software or apps like snap seed
    4) Try to learn photography without unwanted spec . 12 -15 MP
    is more than enough to showcase your photos for printing / web etc. Better if you have a full frame camera  5) Some kind of  imperfections brings  beauty to
    your photography . Too much perfection will call you as Adobe Pro editor rather
    than a Pro Photographer. 
    6) Saving money will help to reduce credit card bills
    / better bank balance which brings happiness and a stress free life. Trust me a stress
    free person can take much more beautiful photos

    7) Teaching photography is very difficult but self-learning photography
    is very easy. You can’t learn swimming through mail or YouTube instead understand
    the logic used . Practice makes perfect

    Above points are not applicable  for Pro who earns money with photography . They always go for 5D or above .

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  4. adam sanford

    The upgrade math is very simple.  If you own a 6D1, the sales pitch is “Do you want 90% as good a camera as a 5D4 for $2k?”  The answer is likely a resounding yes.

    6D1 owners are being dangled some awesome bait here…

    * 80D-like AF system
    * DPAF + tilty-flippy + touchscreen = a powerful trio of features
    * Anti-flicker, Bluetooth, NFC, Wifi, GPS, etc.
    * 6.5 fps actually beats the 5D3 by a nose

    …so I expect many 6D1 owners to upgrade.

    That said, a few thoughts:

    1) A 6D2 is not only aimed at 6D1 owners.  This is key.  7D2, XXD, XXXD owners may finally hop up to FF with this rig, so the 6D2 may turn out to be a great win for Canon even if 6D1 folks pass on it.

    2) This rig is likely not going to steal any Nikon or Sony shooters unless they really need the strong video AF that DPAF allows.  Stills shooters for Nikon and Sony will undoubtedly get a better deal (features-per-dollar wise) in the upcoming D760 and A7 III.

    Best guess?  This will sell very well, but the boo birds complaining about missing features in a $2k camera (4K , dual slot, etc.) and the Sony/Nikon folks getting higher spec’d rigs for the same money will have a field day poking holes in the 6D2.  Let them.  It will still sell very well.

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  5. Kaushik Biswas

    This is a good camera on the paper. Like Holly points out, an incredible upgrade from its earlier version. It has to been to be seen how to performs in real life. Having said that, majority of the people who complained about this camera are never going to make use it anyways. So quit crying, if you like it buy it, if not then buy Sony. If every camera came with the same features, then I am not sure why we have so many different varieties anyways.

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  6. Eric Mazzone

    I have the 6D and was looking at getting the 5D mark III simply because of the autofocus system would work better with my shooting style, but THIS 6D mark II is exactly what I need simply for that reason alone.  So I’m definitely saving my pennies and will be getting this new camera.

    For the people whining that it doesn’t have 4k, would they have really purchased this camera if it had 4k?  I highly doubt it, so quit yer bitchin. 

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    • Nick Buchholz

      Well put. My thoughts exactly. We heard the same rants about 4k video when the 5d4 came out.

      I think 90% of the haters probably switched to Sony years ago but still like justifying their switch with a good old rant online.
      That’s great for us Canon shooters, we get to buy their Canon glass cheap off craigslist :)

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    • adam sanford

      Not all the haters are from Sony or Nikon.  Some Canonites just have unreasonable expectations and want a $2000 5D4 minus a few a megapixels.

      I am not saying they have a point.  I’m just saying not everyone raising hell over 4K or dual card slots over at CR is a brand new member on their first post.  Some are regular visitors there and have owned Canon for decades.

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    • Tobias Heyl

      Well that’s too bad that your ‘arguing’ lacks actual arguments, Eric. Maybe you change your mind once you find out that the dynamic range of the 6D Mk II is worse than the one of the 6D. I would expect this new camera, sensor and processors to be capable to shooting better image quality.

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    • adam sanford

      Tobias, that’s an observation made from numbers crunched on a RAW file of unknown origin.  We have no idea if it came from a final production camera.

      But if it turns out to be true for the production sensor as well, landscapers/studio folks might think twice before getting a 6D2, sure. 

      But everyone else (who lives at ISO north of 100) won’t care about a base ISO difference and should probably get excited about other things:  the tilty-flippy / DPAF / touch combo, much better AF system, 6.5 fps, ISO 40000 limit implying it will outperform the 5D4 in high ISO, etc.

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    • Eric Mazzone

      Tobias, I shoot at ISO 100 for 99% of my work, and UP TO ISO 400 for the remainder.  I’m pretty sure the dynamic range won’t hurt me.  

      And nice straw man attempt there.  You failed and completely ignored MY points to whine about your issues. 


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    • Eric Mazzone

      Tobias, there’s a term for what you just did, whataboutism.

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